House in Alcobaça

Aires Mateus

The house designed in the historical center of Alcobaça is a record of overlapping times: A small building reconstructed to perpetuate the vernacular common scale, and a wall thoroughly shaped to house the quiet extension.


On the existing building a void is created managing the thickness of the peripheral walls.


An absence of space is freed collecting luminosity from a skylight that grants a private and protected atmosphere.


The compartments appear as internal additions, connected to the exterior through reinterpreted windows in the façades, but proposing an unexpected internal space.



Project Information

Project Name: House in Alcobaça


Architect Office: Aires Mateus

Lead Architect:Aires Mateus

Completion Year: 2011

Area:475 m²

Photographer:Fernando Guerra | FG+SG

Born in LISBON in 1963, in 1983 he started a collaboration with architect Gonçalo Byrne, his first teacher.

As Manuel Aires Mateus himself has stated, another important reference point for his and his brother Francisco’s education, an architect too, has been PETER ZUMTHOR. From the Swiss teacher they have taken the skilful, material use of pure shape and the importance of claddings in architecture.

Throughout the years, other big names of the international architecture scene have followed (among all, Alvaro Siza).

A very important date in Aires Mateus’s biography is the foundation of the professional firm AIRES MATEUS & ASSOCIADOS in 1988.

From that moment on, the firm would be spoken well of thanks to the projects implemented.

A number of distinctive elements can be recognized in the architectures by Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus, starting with PURITY OF SHAPE, which is expressed as a combination of skilfully set solids and voids, where the voids themselves become space.

MATERIAL PECULIARITY is also very important, where white almost always prevails. Also the cuts inside these pure shapes, which lend personality to the location, together with the symmetry of the plan (characterized by solids and voids), lend personality and uniqueness to the works by the Aires Mateus brothers.

This combination of elements gives birth to elegant, pure and functional shapes that communicate with the past while looking to the future of the city.

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